Opioid update Promising trends in rural opioid misuse shown

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Pills, Fentynal Powder, and Heroin syringe sit on a table

WASHINGTON — After five years of outreach and education by farm groups, a new poll shows increased awareness and willingness to talk about the opioid crisis among rural adults, compared to 2017. 

Sixty percent say adults in their community are more aware of the crisis than they were five years ago, and nearly 8 in 10 adults (77%) report feeling comfortable having a conversation about opioids. However, survey results also reveal that more rural adults believe there is a higher rate of opioid misuse in rural communities than in the rest of the country (urban and suburban areas), compared to five years ago. 

The percentage of rural adults who say they know someone who is or has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers remains close to half. “

To help increase awareness of mental healthcare resources, AFBF and NFU have consistently worked to publicize and compile useful material to help address rural stress, mental health challenges and opioid misuse

 While survey responses indicate that 40% of rural adults say it is easy for someone in their community to access a large amount of prescription opioids without a medical need, this is a six-percentage point decrease from 2017. 

Survey results also reinforced the need for systemic solutions to the opioid crisis, including increased access to addiction treatment programs and increased access to mental healthcare, as well as monitoring how much and how often doctors prescribe painkillers. The survey of 2,000 rural adults was conducted by Morning Consult in October.

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